One afternoon while running an errand near the oceanfront in Virginia Beach, I decided to go an extra block and take a peek at the ocean. The air was cold, in the 40s, and cloudy, with a slight drizzle. It was a typical off-season day. The boardwalk was deserted. So with my pick of the benches, I sat on a choice one, stretched out my legs, stuck my hands in my jacket pockets, and looked out over the water.
It was windy and the rough waves crashed ashore making that unmistakable sound of the sea. Looking up at the seagulls flying, I noticed the drizzle had stopped. So I decided to enjoy the fresh sea air for a while, and maybe even get a little inspiration from the nature God created.
Sitting there in the cold, my attention was drawn to a seagull flying above the boardwalk, about 10 feet in front and above me. Hovering perfectly still, his wings gave a slight flutter as he faced the strong wind.
At first, I felt sorry for him as he was getting nowhere in this wind. But by facing that wind, he was kept aloft by its force. For a few moments, he opened his wings without flapping them and remained stationary, directly in front of me, suspended in mid-air.
As I observed this remarkable sight, the Lord spoke to my heart and said, “I’m not keeping you back, I’m keeping you up.”
Maybe like me, you can relate to that seagull. Have you ever felt stuck in your life? Seemingly held back and not going forward? The Lord let me know that He’s not holding us back; He’s holding us up.
As I pondered that thought and watched the seagull closely, I realized that if the seagull had flown away from the wind, he would have been blown down to earth. But by facing the resistance of the wind, with a slight flutter of his wings, he was lifted up. So when resistance comes against you, if you face it, put your nose into the wind and flap your wings. You’ll be lifted up and not cast down. Resistance will lift you higher!
“… You make the clouds your chariot; you ride upon the wings of the wind.” (Psalm 104:3, NLT)
When you pursue your goals and dreams in life, at some point you will inevitably encounter resistance. Think of King David in the Bible. He was chosen to be King as a young man, but the current King Saul put unrelenting pressure on him by trying to destroy him. Through the years of persecution from King Saul, David honed his skill as a guerrilla fighter, a strong leader of men, and a man of character and honor. Resistance lifted him to become the King he had been chosen to be.
Think of the early church. Great persecution came against the early church. Many were martyred for refusing to deny Christ and many had to flee for their lives. But this unrelenting pressure of persecution caused the church to become firm in the faith and spread far and wide in order to survive. Resistance lifted the church throughout the known world in 300 years, becoming the official religion of the Roman Empire.
If you turn from resistance and run, it will smash you to the ground. You’ll be crushed and your flight, as well as your dreams, will be over. So instead of looking at the winds of resistance as something formidably holding you back, look at it as something God is using to hold you up and make you strong. Embrace resistance, and it will raise you to the heights you dream of reaching!
“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31, NIV)
Childlike Trust in the Lord
Child-Like Trust in the Lord
by Shawn McEvoy, crosswalk.org
O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters, or in things too difficult for me.
Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.
Psalm 131:1-2, NAS
This song, like many of the Psalms, was written by David – the man who would be Israel’s greatest king. Is David who comes to mind when you think of someone “not involved in great matters” (kingdom conflicts, maybe)? Or unbothered by “things too difficult” (slaying a giant, anyone)? No, to me, this doesn’t really sound like David. Doesn’t really sound like me most of the time either.
Let’s take a quick look at three things that stand out about this little Psalm:
1) Attitude. David’s “heart” – his inner being, his spirit, is not proud… of things he’s done, of where he’s been and where he’s going… but neither is he beating himself up. He is just… content.
2) Appetite. David’s “eyes” – his senses – are not haughty. He’s not seeking to please them. He doesn’t have the look of arrogance. He knows Whose he is, and that his needs are met not of himself. He is not restless to feed like an infant, he is not stalking around asking to eat out of boredom like my 2-year-old.
3) Aptitude. David places the responsibility for this peaceful state upon himself. Not circumstances, not achievements, not even on God. “Surely I have quieted my soul,” he says.
Taken all together, this shows us what trust looks like, and helps us understand why trusting God brings such soothing peace. Jesus said we must have faith like children to come to Him. Apparently, trust is also best exemplified in little ones.
David’s “talk” is of not being proud; his “walk” then backs it up by what he “involves” (or doesn’t involve) himself in. This doesn’t mean God hasn’t given him – or you – important stuff to get done, just that David has “declared himself free from excessive ambition” (Ryrie study notes).
To sing not of self, to seek not to fill the senses, to seek the will only to be quiet before God – that is trust. A “weaned child” knows instinctively where to find trust. By extension, and through the example of “the man after God’s own heart,” so do we.
Streams in the Desert – October 12
Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t
Joseph’s master took him and threw him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. So he was there in the prison. But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him kindness. He granted him favor in the sight of the prison warden. The warden put all the prisoners under Joseph’s care. He was in charge of whatever they were doing. The warden did not concern himself with anything that was in Joseph’s care because the Lord was with him and whatever he was doing the Lord was making successful. (Gen 39:20-23)
When God lets us go to prison because we have been serving Him, and goes there with us, prison is about the most blessed place in the world that we could be in. Joseph seems to have known that. He did not sulk and grow discouraged and rebellious because “everything was against him.” If he had, the prison-keeper would never have trusted him so. Joseph does not even seem to have pitied himself.
Let us remember that if self-pity is allowed to set in, that is the end of us—until it is cast utterly from us. Joseph just turned over everything in joyous trust to God, and so the keeper of the prison turned over everything to Joseph. Lord Jesus, when the prison doors close in on me, keep me trusting, and keep my joy full and abounding. Prosper Thy work through me in prison: even there, make me free indeed.
A little bird I am,
Shut from the fields of air,
And in my cage I sit and sing
To Him who placed me there;
Well pleased a prisoner to be,
Because, my God, it pleaseth Thee.
My cage confines me round,
Abroad I cannot fly,
But though my wing is closely bound,
My soul is at liberty;
For prison walls cannot control
The flight, the freedom of the soul.
I have learnt to love the darkness of sorrow; there you see the brightness of His face.
“A man will not be established by wickedness, but the root of the righteous will not be moved.” – Proverbs 12:3 NASB
When the Bible talked about security, the word “established” is often used. The Hebrew word suggests standing firm, being prepared, being ready to face any situation, and refusing to compromise. This stability allows us to be confident regardless of what is happening. But how do we achieve this security? This confidence?
Many people feel that they will be secure when they become successful when they have accumulated more wealth or achieved fame. To achieve these things, some develop devious plans or form alliances with unprincipled people. Others think they can justify anything to attain their goals. But the Bible warns that we “will not be established by wickedness” (v. 3).
What is the root condition of security? Being “righteous” (v. 3). This means concentrating on doing what is right in God’s sight. As we obey God and please Him, we can be freed from shaking, slipping, and instability. Then, we “will not be moved” (v. 3).
To achieve this stability, we need to be anchored in God’s Word. Trust in Him. Be driven by a passion to serve Him. Be sensitive to His Spirit. Be concerned about eternal things. Be dedicated to His kingdom.
God wants you to be secure, but this world is unstable. The way to achieve security is to trust completely in Him. Fill your mind with His Word. Focus on doing what is right. Then you will have an immovable root.